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article imageAuthor explores a fascinating life of social justice Special

By Paula Kirman     Jul 1, 2014 in Entertainment
Edmonton - Alexis Kienlen is an Edmonton-based writer who is a journalist and published poet with two volumes of poetry to her credit. Her third book is a work of non-fiction about someone who is well known for being an advocate for social justice.
Truth, Love, Non-Violence is the biography of Gurcharan Singh Bhatia, a fellow Edmontonian who is originally from India. He witnessed a great deal before he moved to Canada, where he became a citizenship judge and advocate for human rights. In this interview, Kienlen discusses how she got involved with the project, why it resonates so much with her, and what readers can learn from this fascinating man.
How did you come to be the writer of Truth, Love, Non-Violence?
I became the writer of Truth, Love, Non-Violence, through Linda Goyette, a veteran journalist and writer. She paired me up with Gurcharan Singh Bhatia, the subject of the biography. His story was one that I found very interesting, because of the human rights message in his life and his work. He had accomplished a great deal, and in many ways, he became a mentor to me.
How long did you work on the project, and what sorts of research did you employ?
The project took three years. Mr. Bhatia had extensive archives, and so I read through and looked at everything he had. From there, I did numerous interviews with him, and then with more than 20 people who were connected to him. I also had to learn more about what was happening in the world during Mr. Bhatia's lifetime. So I watched films and read books about India. I had to learn a lot about Canadian history as well, so I read some Canadian history books and talked with professors who could give me details about things like the Charlottetown Accord and other important events in Canadian history.
What were some of the most interesting things you discovered about Mr. Bhatia while working on the project?
I learned so much from him, and was really intrigued by how he'd overcome challenges. During the partition of India, he lost 67 family members and ended up becoming a refugee. Yet he didn't come out of this experience as someone who was bitter and angry; he came out of this experience as a someone who became dedicated to promoting human rights and civil society. Every time he had a setback in his life, he overcame the challenges and moved on to something else. He also taught me several things like the importance of resilience.
What do you most hope readers will take away from them after reading the book?
I'm actually going to quote my father in my answer to this question. After my dad read the book, he said that it was a great story for people to read, because they can get an idea about how one person can have an impact on the world. Mr. Bhatia has played a part in creating so many important platforms- like a multicultural newspaper called Canadian Link, and Daughters Day, an annual celebration which raises awareness about the plights of girls and women. Other people have told me that they learned a lot about both Indian and Canadian history, and were inspired by the book. It would be great if people read this book and were inspired to make the world a better place too.
Where can the book be purchased?
The book is available for purchase at any Amazon site, and can be bought in Kindle or soft cover format. (Best way to find it is to type in my name or Gurcharan SIngh Bhatia.)
The book can also be purchased at Audreys Books in Edmonton, Tix on the Square in Edmonton, or by contacting me directly at If you would like to learn more about me as a writer, and about my poetry books or other work, you can learn more about me at my website.
More about alexis kienlen, gurcharan bhatia, Human Rights, Social justice, Book
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